Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

All images

©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, December 05, 2005

His Royal Ramness

My relationship with Joe Pye Weed is evolving. I think we are entering his terrible teen years, or worse, his 20's where he will say/do/act in anyway to show his angst as if he is the first being to ever have angst.

The experts say that with a ram -'don't touch him at all, don't interact with him, leave him be' but upon his arrival here at 3 months, I chose to try the opposite. It didn't make sense to me to have an animal around that, if he did get out, wasn't acclimated to my touch. So I always groomed him, petted him, talked to him, picked him up and held him up on his two hind legs,etc. He even came to me, and nuzzled me. His first breeding last year he remained a total gentleman. I never took for granted he was a ram, but never felt afraid of him. This season, a bigger bolder Joe Pye has emerged. We are redefining our boundaries so to speak, and Joe's boundary is pretty much anywhere past the gate where his ladies are. He has now taken to coming at me from 10 feet with much grace and zip - fortunately the only damage so far has been a brusied arm and hurt heart - 'my little Joe, he's gone and started hating me'. Of course, this is ridiculous, he hates nothing. He is simply, a ram. The most exciting encounter happened last week when I decided to venture up into his Holy Ramness's pasture. I needed to retrieve some wooden fence posts, and figured I'd get in and out fast, I after all had 'control' over Joe, or always had. The pasture is pretty much all hill and within about 10 minutes Joe ran over to check out my arrival into his lair. I did all my usual tricks to get away from him, ear tweeking, circling him, nose tapping, then nose beating - but I found myself in a real pickle. I was stuck on a hill, and Mr. Pye Weed had acres to back up all he wanted. For those of you who have never been with a ram, the sight of him putting his head down and backing up means "Prepare thyself, human, I am going to come at you and the thick skull bone I have to defend myself from others and ram into your human bones creating bruises, breaks, and if I'm on target, a total knockdown." I knew the only thing to do was stand my ground, and pull out of his way seconds before he got to me. Putting a hand down only causes damage to hands and fingers - a lesson I had already learned. This predicament went on for about 20 minutes, all the time, I screamed 'JOEEEEEEEEEEEEE' as loud as I could while he charged me - futile, but I was pissed. Martyn was in his office in the house, and I kept thinking, 'he must hear me out here' . I thought of jumping the fence, but figured he'd nail me there too, running was out of the question. Finally, I got smart and took my jacket off and threw it on his head which caused him to run off without knowing were he was going - and fortunately it was opposite of me so I could run off myself. Martyn later said, "Gee, you could have been dead for hours and I never would have know" - thanks honey. It was a stupid thing to do, go into a ram's pasture with his ewes and expect him to idylically graze at a distance.

At the beginning of each day, Joe Pye is the first farm animal I greet and care for, and the last at nite to get tucked into his stall. He has a huge energy, and I get cranky when people suggest he is 'getting mean" - He's a ram, with testicles the size of grapefruits who can 'service' 40 ewes on his own, that's a lot of hormones to walk around with. I get satisfaction looking at the lambs and ewes he has helped create, and know I help him by caring for him as well as I can. Many think it is foolish to impose our human emotional thoughts/feelings onto animals [what's that word?], but I have a relationship with this beast, and he with me in his own ramness way.